Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN) – Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL)
STD: 8:35 AM ATD: 9:19 AM
STA: 12:24 PM ATA: 12:59 PM
Aircraft: A319 (B-6201)
Flight Date: August 13, 2016
Flight Date: November 30, 2016
Class of Service: Business
Seat Type: Recliner
Seat Pitch: 42 inches
Seat Width: 22 inches
Meals: Warm meal after take off in Business Class
In-Seat Outlets: No
IFE: No personal TVs at seat, tablet available upon request
After spending a few hours at the China Southern Lounge, it was finally time for the last leg of my trip to get to Malaysia. I couldn’t wait to get to my hotel and unwind after spending what would have been 24 hours of transit time. Just my luck of course, my flight was delayed.
Once boarding was announced, I made my way over to the gate where boarding was already well on its way (due in part, no doubt, to the distance between the lounge and the gate). There was an incredibly long line of passengers waiting to board the aircraft, which I initially stood in before my colleague who was traveling with me pointed out that there was a small “Sky Priority Line” sign, which we could possibly use. She was right and we (thankfully) got to jump ahead and board.
The business class cabin on the A319 is configured in a 2-2 layout with 2 rows, fitted with recliner chairs – much like what you’d see on a short-haul domestic flight on an American carrier. I was seated in 2H, which is the aisle seat on the second row.
I typically prefer the window seat on short haul flights, and while total flying time for this flight was 4 hours (which falls a bit in the middle), I’m not sure why I picked the aisle seat. Not that it made much of a difference – this was hopefully going to be a quick flight.
The recliner seats felt fine at first – they were large and soft, as expected. These were, as it turns out, not great for sleeping (more on that later).
Again, as I was putting away my things and getting settled into my seat, a Flight Attendant came by to offer some water or juice. I asked for soda water this time, in hopes of avoiding any miscommunication like what I had encountered on my flight to Guangzhou. Before she walked away, she pulled out the slippers tucked into the back pocket of the seat in front of me and took them out of the packaging.
The Flight Attendant soon came out with my drink and much to my (pleasant) surprise, it was sparkling water, not tonic water, like it had been on my previous flight. The console had a small ledge that extended out into a platform to rest drinks on, so I pulled it out so as not to impose on the limited space on the shared console between my neighbor’s seat and mine.
As she handed me my drink, she also gave me the menu for the flight. I was oddly not very hungry, so I requested just the hors d’oeuvre, the the salad, the cheese, and the dessert. After I made my selection, she took the menu away from me, as was done of my previous China Southern flight. Not a big deal, but I do like to hold on to the menu to look back at once the meal is served.
On this flight, the seats were not equipped with personal TVs (nor were they tucked away in the arm rest).
I overhead the passenger in the row in front of me ask where the in flight entertainment might be located and the FA (hilariously) pointed to the cabin TV screens. Not sure if she quite understood what he was asking, but she eventually brought over a Samsung tablet. As she came over to me, I asked if I could have the same and she brought one over to me, and a pair of headphones.
I was told we couldn’t use our cellphones during the flight – “Airplane mode is not a thing in China” were her words I believe. She did mention I could make use of the tablet before take off and once we were up in the air at cruising altitude.
Cabin doors closed at approximately 8:24 AM, China Standard Time, but we didn’t actually push back from the gate until about 8:59 AM, before taking off just before 9:20 AM.
The tablet was loaded with quite a few good TV shows (in English) – but oddly, no movies in English! The tablet included movies in French, Spanish, Chinese… but none in English. Was odd, but not a bid deal for me since I prefer watching TV shows on flights. As with my previous flight, a 3 minute, 20 second commercial plays before and after every episode you watch, and the end of an episode does not automatically queue up another episode of the same show to watch. The tablet itself was also a bit difficult to position anywhere to prop up, since it didn’t have a stand to hold it up, so short of holding the tablet in your hands, it was very awkward to use. Every time I tried to lean it on its case, it would eventually just slide down. Even so, having the tablet option was nice, and better than nothing since there was no wifi available on this flight.
I will admit I do regret not ordering a main course on this flight, but I wasn’t hungry when she came by to take orders. Of course, by the time the meal was served, I was starving, so I sorely regretted my earlier decision.
Since I’d oped to skip the main course, the Vietnamese prawn roll was served as the main dish on my plate, along with the kidney bean salad, fruit, chocolate mousse, and bread.
The Vietnamese prawn roll was a little dry but otherwise good – I could have easily eaten another. I was not particularly fond of the salad, then again I’m not particularly fond of kidney beans, so that would be expected. The fruit was good, very fresh and crisp. The chocolate mousse however, was tasteless and didn’t have much to it. I ate more than a few bites to make sure I wasn’t missing something and I wasn’t – it simply wasn’t there. A bit of a let down since I have quite the sweet tooth.
After the meal service, I still had a good 3 hours left on the flight so I tried to get some sleep. I wasn’t too surprised to find that the seat was not meant for a comfortable nap. I’m a little surprised that the business class seat on this length of a flight time is a recliner seat, given that on the recent China Airlines flight I took from NRT – TPE (with a similar flight time), at the very least had angled lie flat seat. Similarly, the recent Thai Airways flight I took from KUL-BKK (a 2 hour flight) offered lie flat staggered seats. Would really love to see an upgrade on this route, though then again, others might not find napping on a 8 am flight so key as someone who just got off a 15 hour flight from New York City.
I eventually did fall asleep, thankfully, all the way until we landed, about 30 minutes later than scheduled.
Check in: 6/10 – as I checked in for this flight in JFK, I’ll give the same rating here as I did on that review.
Lounge: 7/10 – solid lounge with some basic amenities. Bonus – lots of outlets everywhere! See review here.
Boarding: 5/10 – no clear signage, or announcements your best bet is to follow where other people stand
Food: 5/10 – I didn’t eat very much, but what I did eat wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t fantastic either.
Seat: 5/10 – Would love to see more comfortable seats on a 4 hour flight!
Cleanliness of aircraft: 9/10 – clean upon boarding, lavatory kept clean throughout flight
Crew: 6/10 – Crew was friendly enough, but again, English was a bit of an issue if anything out of the ordinary was asked for.
IFE: 6/10 – No PTV in seat, had to request tablet (not offered) that was a bit uncomfortable to use. Decent shows, but no movies in English. Same 3 minute commercials played before movie starts
Elite recognition: 3/10 – Didn’t come up, with the exception of the Sky Priority lane and the captain thanking SkyTeam Members for flying.
Flight Timeliness: 5/10 – Departed 40 minutes late, landed 40 minutes late.
Overall: 57/100 (57%) ★★★★★
As with my previous China Southern flight, the service left me wanting more. Not terrible for a 4 hour flight, though based on experience and observation, other airlines seem to offering much more comfortable (lie flat or angled lie flat) seats on routes of comparable distance/length of time. Currently the only other airline offering business class on this exact route is Malaysia Airlines, which also offers a recliner seat. This is not a premium route for either airline, but coming off a long haul flight from JFK – I could have really used a flat bed seat.